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Charles Eames

Eames, Charles (1907-1978), American architect and designer, best known for his seminal formfitting designs for chairs. He studied architecture under Eliel Saarinen and in 1940 collaborated with Eero Saarinen in designing a chair that won first prize in the organic furniture competition sponsored by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. This chair, with a molded plywood shell, foam-rubber padding, and innovative rubber-weld joints, unfortunately proved too expensive for mass manufacture, but Eames continued to pursue his goal of creating an artistically valid design that could also be produced by modern mass-production techniques. In collaboration with his wife, Ray (Kaiser) Eames, he succeeded in 1946 with an elegantly simple chair consisting of a molded plywood back and seat, mounted on a tubular metal frame; this design became the prototype for much mass-production seating of the 1950s and ’60s. The Eamses’ most famous later design was a luxurious leather-covered reclining armchair with a matching molded ottoman. For their house (1949) in Santa Monica, California, they designed practical prefabricated elements—doors, windows, and walls—with which they hoped to popularise the construction of well-designed mass-production housing.

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